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How to Make Perfect Cheesecake Every Time

From the crust up, this step-by-step cheesecake guide will help you master springform pans, water baths, and extra-creamy cheesecake fillings.

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-Cheesecake is a classic dessert. While it's delicious plain, cheesecake is a culinary bland canvass that can be easily dressed up with a variety of stir-ins and toppers. This unique recipe has a crunchy nut crust and a traditional cream cheese filling. Your family is sure to love it. First, let's preheat the oven to 350 degrees, then make the crust. Pour 1 and three-quarter cups of crushed graham crackers into a medium bowl. You can buy them like this or make your own in a food processor. Crushed cookies also make delicious crusts. You can substitute crushed ginger snaps, vanilla wafers, or chocolate sandwich cookies. Next, add a quarter cup of finely chopped almonds to the bowel. You can also use finely chopped pecans, walnuts, or macadamia nuts instead. Add 1 tablespoon of sugar. And if you like, go ahead and add half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Other spices that would make a tasty crust variation are all spice, ginger, apple pie spice, or pumpkin pie spice. Stir the crust ingredients then pour in half a cup of melted butter and mix well. If you're making a cookie crust variation, you may need less melted butter, so add it gradually. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom and about 1-1/2 inches up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan Because we're going to bake the cheesecake in a waterbath, let's place the springform pan on a double layer of large heavy duty aluminum foil. Bring the edges of the foil up and mold it around the sides of the pan to form a watertight seal. The waterbath baking method is recommended since it yields a creamier texture without the top cracking. Now, let's make the filling. Crack 3 eggs into a small bowl. Beat them lightly and set them aside. Add two 8-ounce packages of softened cream cheese to a large mixing bowl and add one 8-ounce container of sour cream. Add 1 cup of granulated sugar. Now, add 2 tablespoons of flour and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Use an electric mixer to beat the filling and to look smooth. Keep scraping down the sides of the bowl and then mix again until it's fully blended then add the eggs. Gently stir the eggs into the beaten cream cheese to prevent aerating the eggs and batter. This prevents the cheesecake from puffing up in the oven and falling in the center upon cooling. While we'll make a classic cheesecake here, at this point, you can gently stir in an added ingredient to make a specialty cheesecake. Try a cup of chocolate pieces or a cup of fresh berries. Pour the filling into the prepared springform pan. Now, it's time to bake. Place the springform pan into a shallow roasting pan and place the pan into the oven. Then pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to reach halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake it for 1 hour. You'll know the cheesecake is done when the cheesecake edges jiggles slightly then turn the oven off and allow the cheesecake to sit in the oven for 1 hour to allow it to set then remove the springform pan from the waterbath. Place it on a wire rack. Allow it to cool for 15 minutes. Use a small knife to loosen the crust from the sides of the pan and cool the cheesecake for another 30 minutes. Remove the sides and allow the cheesecake to cool completely on the rack. Cover the cheesecake and chill it for at least 4 hours before serving. Cheesecakes and dessert sauces are a match made in heaven. So, it's worth planning to make a sauce too. There's a delicious recipe for homemade fudge sauce at bhg.com. Yum!